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15 years later…


Posted on 3rd November, by Tom Williams in Business Blogging. 1 Comment

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It’s an interesting time in the world of college recruiting. When I was a prospective student, 15 years ago, things weren’t so crazy. Here is my memory of the college application, recruiting and admissions process:

“Grabbing the mail on my way home from high school, I was excited each day when I received another glossy college brochure. I really enjoyed looking through the mailers and reading about the various colleges. All the kids looked so happy and the campuses were lush and green with ivy-covered red brick buildings, large clock towers and backpacks and bikes everywhere.”

“I narrowed my college choice to two schools because the time, effort and cost to apply to more was prohibitive. After being accepted at both schools, I scheduled my in-person campus tours. Mom, Dad and I hopped in the car, which ran on gas for $.90/gallon, and headed to both campuses to check them out. I walked each the campus, talked to students, spoke with admissions counselors, professors…etc. and really got a good feel for what each school was like, the culture, how I would fit in, things to do, places to go – the whole 9 yards. After careful consideration, I selected my college of choice, attended for four years and graduated with honors.”

Today, things are a little different.  My sister is almost 15 years younger than me and just recently came through the college application and admissions process…

“Grabbing the mail on my way home from high school, I found another five pieces of college junk mail and dropped them in the trash; unopened and with a bit of  annoyance. I text’d my friend with my other hand. “katie, ayt? – more coll junk mail 2day, lol”. I narrowed my college search to 10 schools and applied to them all. The universal application made it easy. Besides, I wanted to keep my options open. Mom and Dad told me there is no way they are driving me all over the country to see all 10 schools so I turned to the Internet, hot on the pursuit for information. Real information.”

“It’s 9:00 pm – I grab my laptop, which is connected to my wireless network, and plop down on the couch. I’ve got my web browser open with 14 different tabs ranging from Torrent to Facebook to some colleges I am interested in and 4 instant message sessions happening simultaneously. I glance at a college website and it pretty much looks like the rest – nothing special, nothing real. I desperately search for info that isn’t canned. Perhaps there is a student blog or a video. Maybe I can chat with someone. I’m OK with getting the hard facts from the college but to get a feel for the college, I’d rather talk to a student or alum who is not employed by the school – who will give it to me straight.”

It amazes me how different the world is today than just 15 years ago.  What’s even more amazing is that many colleges have not adapted their recruiting strategy to fit students like my sister.  They still print the same mailers and send them out through snail mail only to become landfill within 24 hours.  What a waste.  Not only is this type of recruiting expensive, from the creative, to the printing, to the mailing, it’s also ineffective!  In fact, fellow blogger, Karine Joly, reported in May, 2008 that higher ed. spends twice as much on print as on electronic student recruitment methods.

Here is my suggestion as you move forward with your recruiting efforts.  Allocate 20% of your print budget to social media.  If you choose the right social media channels and execute your strategy properly, I guarantee you will reap an ROI of significantly more than your 20% investment.

Related posts:

  1. Social Media Experiment: #NACAC08
  2. Tom Williams Interviewed by Columbus Tech Life
  3. Turning Your Staff into Blog Celebrities




One Response to “15 years later…”

  1. This is so true. On our site, http://www.myUsearch.com, we see student search traffic at the oddest times from the oddest places, like 2am on 4th of July from students in Jakarta. If you don’t use social media tactics, you will completely miss those students who are really craving college information and just might be the perfect student for you.

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